The Memory Trees by Kali Wallace (review)
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Reviewed by
Kate Quealy-Gainer, Assistant Editor
Wallace, Kali The Memory Trees. Tegen/HarperCollins, 2017 [432p]
Trade ed. ISBN 978-0-06-236623-8 $17.99
E-book ed. ISBN 978-0-06-236625-2 $9.99
Reviewed from galleys R* Gr. 8–12

Eight years ago, Sorrow Lovegood’s sister died in a tragic accident and Sorrow was swept off to her estranged father’s home in Miami, leaving behind her unstable mother and the family orchard. At sixteen now, she returns to her old home, hoping to clear the haze around her childhood memories, especially in regards to her sister’s death. Her mother is now surprisingly well with the help of medication, but the Lovegood family is still ostracized by the town and still very much continuing their generations-old feud with the Abramses on the adjoining property; the more time Sorrow spends in town, though, the more certain she is that the two Abrams girls, agemates of Sorrow and Patience, know something about Patience’s death. There is a lot to unpack here, from the tenderness and toxicity that can simultaneously exist in families, to the rippling effect of mental illness, to history’s ability to bring guilt to a faultless generation, and to the search for a solid identity among all those jagged pieces. The orchard’s role in uncovering the truth behind her sister’s death adds a hint of magical realism and mystique, as do the interspersed chapters narrated by Sorrow’s ancestors that allude to but never confirm the orchard’s magical properties. The truth behind Patience’s death is devastating, and Sorrow discovers the knowledge she so desperately wanted offers little comfort and even more pain to the Abrams sisters she has come to care about. Good intentions make fine seedlings here, but their growth can easily become gnarled if watered by a mess of hate and ignorance.

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